Erupting for seven unanswered goals after trailing by two early in the contest, the San Antonio Rampage defeated the visiting Rockford IceHogs, 7-2, on Sunday afternoon at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (29-27-3-6) hoped to limit Rockford’s offensive output, in the first period in particular, as the IceHogs entered the game having outscored San Antonio 11-5 in the first period this season and 8-2 in the opening session in the previous three matchups between the two clubs.
The opening minute of the contest provided San Antonio with a feeling of déjà vu as Rockford found the back of the Rampage net in the first 60 seconds for the second night in a row. After a slap shot from the left point by IceHogs blueliner Richard Petiot bounced off of Rampage netminder Josh Tordjman’s leg pads and into the slot, an opportunistic Rockford left wing Bryan Bickell quickly deposited the loose puck into the back of the Rampage net to provide Rockford with an early 1-0 lead only 34 seconds into regulation.
Three minutes and 53 seconds later, Rockford increased their lead to 2-0 when center Matt Keith recorded his seventh goal in seven games against the Rampage in 2009-10. Controlling the puck on the left point of the San Antonio zone, Bickell sent a pass to left wing Pete MacArthur at the top of the right faceoff circle. MacArthur then found Keith on the left faceoff dot, where the center beat Tordjman on a one-timer.
The Rampage closed the deficit to 2-1 on a breakaway goal by center Kyle Turris at the 6:33 mark of the first. After sneaking behind two IceHogs defensemen in the neutral zone, Turris received a perfect pass from left wing Jeff Hoggan at the Rockford blueline and raced into the IceHogs zone all alone before beating IceHogs goalie Corey Crawford high to the glove side.
San Antonio then tied the game with two minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the opening frame on captain Jeff Hoggan’s team-leading third shorthanded goal of the season. Picking the pocket of an IceHogs defenseman in the high slot of the Rampage zone, Hoggan broke down the left side of the neutral zone and into Rockford territory before beating Crawford high to the stick side on a snap shot.
Carrying their momentum to the early moments of the second period, San Antonio took a 3-2 lead, on the power play, at the 1:49 mark of the middle frame on left wing Alexandre Picard’s first Rampage goal since being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets by the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday in exchange for right wing Chad Kolarik. Receiving a puck from Tordjman behind the Rampage net during a regroup, Turris skated the full length of the ice before dishing a pass to left wing Brett MacLean at the bottom of the right faceoff circle in the Rockford zone. MacLean then connected with Picard on a one-timer near the left post to provide San Antonio with their first lead of the contest.
Two minutes and 55 seconds later, Picard registered his second goal of the afternoon. Gaining possession of the puck near center ice, Perrault sent a pass to MacLean on the right boards near the Rockford blueline. MacLean then skated down to the right faceoff circle before dropping a pass to Perrault, who unloaded a slap shot that bounced off Crawford’s pads to Picard in the slot, where the winger knocked in the rebound.
Following the goal, Rockford head coach Bill Peters replaced Crawford with fellow IceHogs netminder Hannu Toivonen, who beat the Rampage on Saturday.
Late in the second, San Antonio defenseman David Schlemko increased the Rampage lead to 5-2 with a power-play goal at 14:49. Working on the man-advantage, right wing David Spina gained possession of a rebound off a shot by Perrault in the left corner and found Schlemko in the high slot, where the blueliner one-timed a slap shot low to Toivonen’s glove side to increase San Antonio’s unanswered goal total to five.
Continuing to display offensive aggression, the Rampage added to their lead at the 11:29 mark of the third on a goal by defenseman Sasha Pokulok. Winning a battle for a loose puck in the right corner of the Rockford zone, Perrault dropped a pass to Turris on the right faceoff dot. Wasting little time, Turris fed a pass to Pokulok in the slot, where the pinching defenseman beat Toivonen high to the stick side to increase San Antonio’s lead to 6-2.
With 4:47 remaining in the game, MacLean recorded his team-leading 26th goal of the season. Gathering his own rebound near the right post after firing a shot from the slot, MacLean drove around the Rockford net and beat Toivonen inside the left post to move the score to 7-2.
San Antonio’s seven goals tied the Rampage season-high for goals in a game.
Tordjman made 27 saves on 29 Rockford shots for his 13th victory of the season, while Crawford and Toivonen combined to stop 37 of 44 San Antonio shots in the loss.
The Rampage were 2-for-10 on the power play and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill in a contest that saw referee Nygel Pelletier whistle the two clubs for a combined 122 penalty minutes.
The Rampage returns to action on Tuesday when they host the Peoria Rivermen for a 7 p.m. West Division matchup at the AT&T Center. The Rampage will pay tribute to the fan with the best mustache at Tuesday’s game.